“As a French company, sustainability is something that we live by”

Betting big on India’s growth story, Egis, a France head-quartered engineering group eyes India as a big market holding a lot of promise. In conversation with Manali Jaggi of BW SmartCities, Nicolas Jachiet, Chairman & CEO, Egis Group shares information about the group’s prospects in the country, projects at hand and his foresight for India.

We believe aviation to be a key topic of discussion during French President’s visit to PMO, what are your expectations from it regarding this sector as well as defense, maritime, space, security and energy related sectors between the two countries? Are you participating in the tendering process of any of these?

It is believed that India will become world’s 3rd largest aviation market by 2020, largest by 2030. The growth will be fueled by the steady GDP growth of around 7 plus per cent YOY for the next five to seven years and promotion strategy of the Indian Government will make India a manufacturing hub for the world. As more and more global companies set up base in India, the aviation sector will be getting more and more active. We are already working on three airport projects in India – Pune, Trichy and Lucknow. The Government is planning around 50 more airports to be operational in the coming years, we are confident that we will be considered for most of them. On the energy front, we are bullish on the nuclear sector in India. We have an ambition of making India the global hub for designing and developing all nuclear work – both for India and the world.  

Can you throw some light on your upcoming projects especially regarding the Smart Cities in India? What are your investment plans for FY2018-19?

For both Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh we are the Programme Management Consultants. Status for Bhubaneswar is that the Design development for most of the project is nearing conclusion. Construction of various public utility building projects is under way. Various execution models such as EPC and PPP are being weighed for large infrastructure and Urban projects. The status for Chandigarh is that most activities in the project are currently in the design development stage.

What is the progress on two metro projects in Chennai and Kochi in South India and Jaipur in western part of the country? Any other projects you are partnering with India on?

For Chennai we have completed one phase which is operational and the second phase of around 9 kms is in the design stage and being reviewed by the metro authority. The Kochi metro has a very high progress. There are few more metro projects we are working on in the country – Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai Line 3, Kolkata, Jaipur and all are in full swing.   

How many projects are you currently executing in India? What is the total value of the projects handled? What order intake do you expect from India for the year 2018?

It is an interesting question because the way I see it, we are partnering with the country to build an infra ready India with world class infrastructure for the next twenty to twenty five years. But, to quantify it, we are working on around 300 plus projects currently which are worth more than a few lac crores in INR combined. We are looking at doubling our size in India very soon in terms of orders.

Sustainability off late has been a big thrust for the Indian Government especially for its Smart Cities Mission, how big do you stress on endurance and sustainability when you work on projects in India?

As a French company, sustainability is something that we live by. And every project we work on, is given a very strong thought on the sustainability front. The smart city projects – Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh both are extremely high on the sustainability context.   

What difference do you perceive while working on projects in India compared to other countries? What kind of technologies does India need to deploy across its various projects?

For Egis, India is one of the three pole countries outside France. It is very important in our scheme of things. So we try to bring our best in India be it technology, people and processes. However, we find that India is still trying to evolve into a quality conscious market and still in many cases we find that the lowest bidder is still the preferred one, which is a bit of a hindrance as quality costs money. But, the positive side of the story is that the change is happening. Globalization is turning the tide towards quality for India as well. So we are very optimistic that we can stop worrying about price soon in India and offer the best quality available around the world on all our projects.  

What was your global turnover in the year 2017? What are your expectations and target for the next five years? Are you looking at any kind of acquisitions in India?

€1.020 Billion was our managed turnover in 2016. The 2017 numbers are still being audited and will be out soon. We are looking at doubling our turnover globally in the next five years. We have been looking at organic and inorganic routes and have already made a few acquisitions in the fast few years – the recent one being OCASCA in Mexico and 10 Designs in Hong Kong. We are on the verge of a major acquisition in India you will know about it very soon.